Technical writing exercise

Using your word processing program, write an email to me in which you explain your reasons for taking Technical Writing on the Internet. Be sure to follow the “Guidelines for Writing and Using Email.” Don’t send this to me as an email. Rather, upload your file to the assignment link below. As with your previous writing assignment, please save your file as a .docx or Rich Text Format type (.rtf), use the correct naming convention in your file name, and include your name and WA 2 in the “Comment” textbox. Even though the text suggests sticking with one paragraph for very brief emails, remember that this email is an assignment and should, therefore, be longer than a brief email. I am expecting a submission of at least two paragraphs and more than one-half a page (but no more than one page) in length. 

Guideline fro writing

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Guidelines for Writing and Using Email

Audience and Purpose

  • Consider your audience. If you are writing to a customer, client, stranger, or someone in authority, use a more formal tone than for a coworker or immediate supervisor. In those situations, use a formal salutation and closing (see ”Email Parts and Format” in this chapter).
  • Consider your purpose. If the situation is complicated or requires discussion and back-and-forth exchange, don’t use email. Consider setting up a meeting, conference call, or video conference.
  • If your message is an official company communication, announcing a new policy or procedure or the like, consider writing a formal memo and sending as an attachment. (See Chapter 15 for more memos and letters.)
  • Check and answer your email daily. If you’re really busy, at least acknowledge receipt and respond later.
  • Check your distribution list before each mailing. Deliver your message to all intended recipients (but not to unintended ones).
  • Spell each recipient’s name correctly. There is no bigger turn-off for readers than seeing their name spelled incorrectly.

Formatting

  • For very brief email, stick with just one paragraph. When more detail is required, follow the structure shown in ​Figure 14.2.
  • ​Don’t indent paragraphs. Instead, double-space between paragraphs.
  • End with a signature block. Include your contact information.
  • Don’t send huge or specially formatted attachments without first checking with the recipient. Typically, files over 10 megabytes can cause download problems. Use a standard format, such as PDF.
  • Use formatting sparingly. Headings, bullets, and font changes such as italics and bold are most appropriate for group announcements, such as ​Figure 14.5.
  • ​Use your email application’s default font for everyday messages. A decorative font is not a good choice for a workplace memo. If you do choose a font, stick with Times Roman or Helvetica.

Style, Tone, and Interpersonal Issues

  • Write a clear subject line. Instead of “Test Data” or “Data Request,” for example, be specific: “Request for Beta Test Data for Project 18.”
  • Keep it short. Readers are impatient and don’t want to scroll through long screens of information. Use an attachment or direct readers to an online source for more information.
  • Be polite and professional. When in doubt, use a formal tone. Avoid angry, personal attacks on other people (known as “flaming,” this style has no place in workplace communication).
  • Use emoticons and abbreviations sparingly. Use smiley faces and other emoticons strictly in informal messages to people you know well. Avoid these symbols when writing to international readers. The same goes for common email abbreviations such as BTW (“by the way”). Avoid ALL CAPS, which means that you are screaming.
  • Proofread and run the spell check before pressing “Send.” Misspellings not only affect your credibility and image, but they also can confuse your readers.
  • Don’t use email when a more personal approach is called for or for complicated issues. Although it may be uncomfortable, meeting in person is often the best way to resolve a complex situation. For group situations, even if everyone can’t attend the meeting, use a conference call or video session. For external audiences, responses to customer complaints should include other ways to help the customer, including social media sites and an 800 number.
  • Focus on the message. The survey cited at the start of this chapter notes that 69% of respondents said that they check email while watching TV or a movie (Naragon). While it might be tempting to do so, watching TV while reading workplace email could cause you to make mistakes—from spelling errors to unprofessional tone to incorrect data–that you might come to regret later.

Ethical and Legal Issues

  • Be careful about using “Reply All” if you only intend to reply to the original writer.
  • Assume that your email is permanent and readable by anyone at any time. “Forensic software” can find and revive deleted files.
  • Avoid wisecracks and rude remarks. Any email judged harassing or discriminatory can have dire legal consequences.
  • Don’t use email to send confidential information. Avoid complaining, evaluating, or criticizing, and handle anything that should be kept private (say, an employee reprimand) in some other way.
  • Don’t use your employer’s email network for messages that are not work related.
  • Before you forward a message, obtain permission from the sender.
  • Use the “bcc” feature if you have a long list of email addresses and don’t want to burden readers with scrolling through these. But don’t use “bcc” to hide from your recipient the other people who will be reading the message.
  • For external audiences, be professional but don’t be afraid to be friendly. Keep messages short. Always allow readers to opt out.

Global Issues

  • Avoid humor, slang, and idioms. These items may be offensive in different cultures; also, this kind of language does not translate easily.
  • Write simple, short sentences that are easy to translate.
  • Convey respect for your recipient. A respectful tone and style is appreciated in any culture.
  • Don’t be too direct or blunt. Some cultures find directness offensive.
  • Be an active listener. Don’t respond immediately; read email carefully to get a sense of the cultural norms of the writer and the other readers.

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